The Man In Charge
By Jim McNaney
When Hollis Cavner and his team decided they wanted to replace the PGA TOUR Champions tournament with a PGA TOUR regular event, adjustments needed to be made and experienced people needed to be added to ensure success.
Enter 3M Open Tournament Director Peter Mele.
Mele has worked for over 30 years in and around the PGA TOUR, the last 20 working directly for the PGA TOUR in New Jersey & New York. His experience was a critical add for the 3M.
While his tenure is long, the time he had to get up to speed with this operation was short…less than a year. Having been approached by Cavner in September of last year, Mele hit the ground running.
The “To Do” list in front of any PGA TOUR Tournament Director is long. Every detail must be attended to. Tasks like coordinating security through the TOUR and local law enforcement agencies, making sure the fan experience is great or even player transportation all need to be attended to.
Not to mention securing big names to play.
“Hollis gets all the credit for recruiting the players,” Mele explained. “My job is to get us show ready by July 1.”
Expectations are high but Mele and his team want Minnesotans to know that this is THEIR event. “Forty-two cities host PGA TOUR events and the economic impact is tremendous. We want Minnesotans to appreciate this as their own.”
Mele also explained that, while the Title Sponsor of the tournament is the same, this year’s event is a brand new one not just a rebranding of the former PGA TOUR Champions tournament.
Some new staff, along with some new volunteers, vendors and new charities will all join some of the best PGA TOUR players in the world for this event.
With a major local Title Sponsor like 3M, Mele is confident the dollars raised for local charities will be significantly higher than in years past.
Fan experience outside the ropes also falls under Mele’s responsibilities. Special fan features such as the Fan Village, a Craft Beer Garden featuring local craft beers, 3M Social Hub, Wine Grove and a Callaway Wounded Warrior Club Fitting are all ways to enhance the day for spectators.
Oh…and on top of that…they’re hosting a concert.
Like other events that Cavner and Mele have hosted, this year’s 3M Open will welcome multi-platform, Grammy Award-winning, southern rock group Zac Brown Band. The concert will take place after tournament play on Friday, July 5th at the National Sports Center, adjacent to the TPC Twin Cities.
As if that was not enough, a fireworks display will take place after the concert.
Given all the ancillary activities, one has to wonder what Mele would see as the biggest challenge.
“We’ll know more on July 8th really,” Mele explained
Things like crowd flow, logistics of getting people from parking lots to the course and even to the concert are all things that that have taken months to plan out.
“Our goal is to provide a great experience for everyone attending this year.” They won’t know how successful they’ll be until after the tournament. “This is basically an entirely new event.”
Advance ticket sales have been strong and volunteers are plenty. In fact, tournament organizers closed the volunteer sign ups in April. Now all they hope for is everything goes according to plan.
“This has been a great Champions Tour event here for many years and that provided us a very good blueprint.”
Now it’s time to execute.
When the tournament is over, Mele’s job is really just beginning. Going back and looking at all that occurred will be a top priority. But like most things in life, change is inevitable.
The PGA TOUR won’t announce the schedule of events for next year for a while. There is a chance that this event might be moved around a bit in July in future years but Mele and his team are hopeful that this event will stay on or around the 4th of July holiday. But with the long-term deal with 3M as tournament sponsor, Mele is confident this will be THE summer event in the Twin Cities for years to come.
“That’s what Hollis wants this event to become,” Mele said.
When asked what he was looking forward to most, Mele explained “Seeing everyone’s hard work come together.”